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Result: $5 Million Settlement for Crane Operator Injured in Fall on Stairway

The Perecman Firm secured a $5,000,000 settlement for a union crane operator and mechanic who was injured from a fall on an outdoor stair tower at a World Trade Center construction site.

The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. represented a client who sustained injuries to his ankle, back, and neck.

On July 13, 2010, the plaintiff, a crane's operator, fell while he was descending an exterior temporary stairway. The incident occurred at a construction site that was located at 1 World Trade Center, in Manhattan. The plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries of an ankle, his back, and his neck.

The plaintiff sued the site's owner, the site's manager, the construction project's general contractor, a related entity, the subcontractors that erected the stairway, and the site's developers. The plaintiff alleged that Regional Scaffolding & Hoisting and Atlantic Hoisting & Scaffolding were negligent in their construction of the scaffold, that their negligence created a dangerous condition that caused the accident, and that the remaining defendants failed to ensure adequate levels of safety and therefore violated the New York State Labor Law.

The plaintiff claimed that the accident was a result of him having slipped on rainwater that had accumulated on the stairway. He claimed that he was holding the stairway's handrail, but that wet conditions broke his grip. The plaintiff’s expert engineer submitted a report in which he opined that the stairway's steps were composed of smooth steel that was dangerously slippery when wet. Each step's surface was dotted by a series of nubs that were intended to provide traction, but the expert contended that the nubs were not effective. He also opined that the stairway was dangerously steep.

The plaintiff’s counsel contended that the defendants violated New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations title 23, part 1.7(d), which specifies that a work site's passageways and elevated surfaces must be free of grease, ice, snow, water and other foreign substances that may cause slippery conditions. They contended that the violation established that the defendants failed to provide or ensure reasonable and adequate protection, as required by Labor Law § 241(6). They also contended that the incident stemmed from an elevation-related hazard, as defined by Labor Law § 240(1), and that the plaintiff was not provided the proper, safe equipment that is a requirement of the statute.

Defense counsel contended that the stairway satisfied all relevant codes. He also claimed that the stairway was designed for outdoor use and therefore reasonably safe.

The plaintiff’s counsel moved for summary judgment of liability. The Justice found that the defendants violated Labor Law § 241(6), but that a jury would have to resolve the claim based on Labor Law § 240(1). Defense counsel appealed, and the appellate division, First Department, reversed the Justice’s decision. The First Department found that the defendants violated Labor Law § 240(1), but that a jury would have to resolve the claim based on Labor Law § 241(6). Defense counsel appealed again, and the Court of Appeals reversed the First Department's decision. The Court of Appeals found that a jury would have to resolve both claims.

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement. The defendants' insurers agreed to pay a total of $5 million.

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